The only public outdoor range close to Asheville where you can shoot rifles out to 100 yards is on Cold Mountain Game Lands south of Lake Logan in Haywood County. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice range facility but has limitations. First, you are going to drive 45 minutes to 1 hour to get there. Second, there are only five shooting positions. Based on feedback from our customers it stays fairly crowded, especially on Saturdays. And with no fee and no on-site management like a Range Safety Officer, there can be some folks who are not safe and courteous shooters. Outside of the member only Asheville Rifle and Pistol Club, there is no place to shoot close to Asheville. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The good news is there is an existing model for how it can be done and it is just down the road in Cleveland County just outside Shelby. Last year the Cleveland County Commissioners partnered with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to build not just a range, but a shooting sports complex. The complex will have separate rifle and pistol range, skeet and trap ranges for shotgun, and an archery range. It will also have an office and classroom where firearms and Hunter Safety classes will be conducted. How did they pull this off? It is simple.
The county owned land that was not being used and may not have been suitable for anything else, like maybe an old landfill. The County Commissioners designated the land for the range and the NC WRC provided funding for range development (skeet/trap houses, covered shooting positions, berms, etc.) from Pittman-Roberson Act funds from the excise tax on shooting supplies. Once those commitments were made, the National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation made grants to assist in building the range. I do not know when it will be completed, but this will be a boon to local shooters and with range fees should provide some income to the County.
So if the model is there, why doesn’t it happen in Buncombe County? The short answer is lack of will by the County Commissioners. Oh yeah, they can fork out millions of dollars for land for a “to be announced” future manufacturing facility off Brevard Road, but can use a closed landfill near Woodfin to serve their current populous. That’s right, if you keep up with local news a couple of years ago the Sherriff’s Department was going to build an outdoor range on the old landfill on River Road. Once word got out a handful of Woodfin residents did the “Not In My Backyard” routine even though testing had been completed to show no effect from noise or no safety issues. Not one Commission came forward to support the plan.
We are in need of a Shooting Sports Complex in Buncombe County for two primary reasons. As our population grows people are legally shooting on their own property. This can produce a safety hazard if using a rifle or handgun. Second, people shooting on their property often draw concern from neighbors who contact the Sherriff’s office. They have to respond to any report of gunfire. The end result is usually just the deputy asking them to be safe as they depart. How many unnecessary calls do deputies respond to like this and how much time is wasted?
It is time the County Commissioners start thinking about serving the residents of this county instead of just worrying about economic development. Start discussions with the NC WRC about finding a location close to Asheville where a shooting complex can be built to meet the needs of the people you are sworn to serve. If Cleveland County can do it, so can you.